ELGAR: Enigma Variations / Pomp and Circumstance Marches Nos. 1 and 4 / Serenade for Strings (Adrian Leaper/ Capella Istropolitana/ Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.554161)
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A reissue of previously available material to change the coupling by combining two discs to form a complete Elgar disc (Enigma was previously coupled with music by Delius, while the Serenade comes form the disc \English String Music").
"Freshly spontaneous throughout", said the Gramophone of the Enigma, "undoubtably good value", added the Penguin Guide.
The Enigma Variations was the turning point in Elgar's life, but by that time he was already 42 and had been struggling to make his mark as a composer, earning a living as a teacher and writer. The very name of the work prompted so much speculation as to cause in itself an interest in the music. In a modest way it also proved to be the first music that England had 'exported' for over two centuries, with performances taking place in many parts of Europe, particularly Germany.
And yet to the vast majority of people, it is the Pomp and Circumstance Marches that represent Elgar, the Imperialist and English Gentleman. He was uneasy that they had such a devastating success, as he had conceived them simply as orchestral marches.
The Serenade was a much earlier work, and probably written with amateur musicians largely in mind. He had at that time - 1892 - almost given up hope of a career as a composer.